State only a game away for Cougars

Nicole Zygmontowicz spent a lot of time at the free-throw line Wednesday night against Decatur where she was 4-for-7. The CK senior scored 21 points and hit the Cougars’ only shot from 3-point range. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Nicole Zygmontowicz spent a lot of time at the free-throw line Wednesday night against Decatur where she was 4-for-7. The CK senior scored 21 points and hit the Cougars’ only shot from 3-point range.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

The Central Kitsap girls basketball team wrestled with their own district playoff demons and the Decatur Gators Wednesday night and came away winners on both counts with a lopsided 68-35 victory.

The Cougars aren’t known for district playoff success and Wednesday’s game was only their second in six years. Granted CK hasn’t had the pleasure of being a No. 1 seed from the Narrows League before (this was their first), nor had they beaten two state-caliber teams (Port Angeles and Capital) back-to-back to earn that right.

Does that make Central Kitsap a state-caliber team?

“Absolutely,” CK coach Denise Baxter said. “They just come out and play. They know their goal of where they want to go so they just get the job done.

“If we can clean up our turnovers then we’ll be able to compete with some of the best teams in the state.”

CK played last night against Enumclaw at Auburn and hoped to exorcise yet another demon since the Hornets blasted the Cougars 98-33 in a district playoff game in one of the school’s most-lopsided losses. A win meant an automatic berth in the Class 4A state tournament, a trip CK hasn’t made since 1993. Decatur had a date Friday with Foss at Puyallup’s Rogers High in a loser-out game.

Not that the 19-4 Cougars were overlooking the 14-9 Gators (No. 7 seed from the South Puget Sound League).

“We knew Decatur had a a couple of athletes, though not near the caliber of Capital or Port Angeles,” Baxter said. “We knew we had to contain Jennifer Morrow (13.8 points per game) and Kamrica Ary-Turner (14.2 ppg), and they weren’t a great outside shooting team so we had to pack it in a bit more and give them only one shot.”

CK started slowly but soon found their stride as they jumped out to a 7-2 lead when Decatur coach Colby Rogers called for a time out to settle his team down.

“We didn’t come to play,” Rogers said. “We haven’t struggled against pressure like that all season. We struggled with our shooting and taking care of the ball.”

Ary-Turner finished with a team-high 13 points. Morrow added five as she struggled from outside the three-point arc on 1-for-5 shooting. Amanda Font and Jennifer Robertson each had six.

The pause in action didn’t help out the visitors as the home team stretched its lead to 14-7 at the end of the first quarter as it put on the full-court press. CK kept it up in the second quarter, taking a 33-17 lead at the half.

“That’s our thing,” forward Nicole Zygmontowicz said of the defense. “I told coach ‘we need to keep this up,’ because that’s where we get our steals and our quick points.”

CK’s pressure forced the Gators into 30 turnovers.

Zygmontowicz shined in her first district game since her sophomore year. After missing the postseason last year after having her ACL surgically repaired, the 5-foot-11 senior had 21 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Sophomore Emily Zygmontowicz, despite being double-teamed whenever she had the ball, had six points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

“She’s in a slump,” the elder Zygmontowicz said of her younger sister’s recent drop in scoring. “But even if she doesn’t get on the scoreboard she still contributes for us on the court.”

It didn’t look like Narrows League Bridge Division co-MVP Adria Layne was going to score much either as she only had four points in the first half and sat out most of the third quarter after picking up a pair of early fouls.

“I couldn’t do anything on offense in the first half so I just started working on my defense,” said Layne, who had four steals.

“Adria was worried at halftime because she didn’t feel like she was doing a lot,” Baxter said. “The good thing about our team is that one person doesn’t have to do a lot.”

Layne found her groove in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of CK’s 27 points.

And if the Cougars stay in the groove, they can start packing their bags for Tacoma.

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